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Linux Commits to Inclusive Language

Michael Tharrington (he/him)
I'm a friendly, non-dev, cisgender man from NC who enjoys playing music/making noise, eating veggies, and hanging out with my best friend/wife + our 2 cats + 1 dog. (he/him)
・1 min read

A friend just shared this article on The Register that states Linux is committing to inclusive language.

From the article:

A Git commit adopted changes recommended by kernel developer Dan Williams, with the result that Linux will no longer refer to masters, slaves or blacklists.

In their place coders will be expected to use alternatives such as “primary” and “secondary” relationships, or refer to “leaders” and “followers”, or even “directors” and “performers”.

Blacklists are to become either “denylists” or “blocklists” and whitelists will become “allowlists” or “passlists”.

Torvalds’ commit was made on July 10th and said he thinks there’s no need for the change to wait for the next merge window for a new cut of the Linux kernel.

Discussion (12)

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javiersalcedopuyo profile image
Javier Salcedo

I like passlist/blocklist! Way more explicit :D
Allowlist/Denylist on the other hand feel like a mouthful.

The alternatives to master/slave don't convince me though.
I think main is the best replacement for master. Short and clear.
But I haven't found yet an alternative for slave that doesn't feel over-complicated, too long or insufficient. Maybe secondary? 🤔

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Blacklists are to become either “denylists” or “blocklists” and whitelists will become “allowlists” or “passlists”.

If english is not your first language, this seems much more intuitive that whitelist/blacklist which is doesn't seem like it would be intuitive if you weren't aware of this phrase in the first place.

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rhymes profile image
rhymes • Edited

In Italian we have "lista nera" which is colloquially used as "blacklist". We do have the opposite concept, "lista bianca" but it's much, much more rare in its usage.

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greenroommate profile image
Haris Secic • Edited

Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian have same thing as I wrote. I just forgot to mention that it's usually used as list of "people to remove" or list of people you hate, has no racial impact just a word from the old age and most of our devs use modified english words as ours sound silly to us

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greenroommate profile image
Haris Secic

Actually not allways, depends on the language. In my native language we also called it "black list"(translated has a space). Reason is that my country never had balck people so no one found it offensive or noticed a problem with it. However blocklist would sound silly translated back and closest sane translation would mean "list of blocks" where denylist would make a bit more sense as "list of forbids".

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bigj1m profile image
Jean-Michel Plourde

Torvald approvingg that and not fighting it, what a great day to be alive.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him) Author • Edited

No doubt! Definitely gives me hope, and hope has been hard to come by recently.

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graciegregory profile image
Gracie Gregory (she/her)

@bigj1m ain't that the truth! It seems like yesterday that Linus was taking a leave of absence to process his bad behavior on the kernel mailing list. Progress!

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bigj1m profile image
Jean-Michel Plourde

Yeah and I want to believe him. It was more than overdue to apply some break on his toxic behaviour

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dwd profile image
Dave Cridland

For "master/slave", it largely depends what we're talking about. I quite like "active" and "passive (or replica)" for distributed systems work, but the connotation of "master" with "master copy" is a hard one to shake.

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